Some may say the headline has it backward, but today's modern travelers would agree, and in fact, they go out of their way to research the hotel guest experience before they even begin their travels.
Recent trends support the idea that today's travelers rely on user-generated content and guest reviews to research their hotel stays before they book. Consider these trends:
- Social media: Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have made it easier than ever for travelers to share their experiences with others. This has led to a growing reliance on user-generated content (UGC) as a source of information about hotels and other travel destinations.
- The decline of traditional travel guides: In the past, travelers relied on travel guides like Lonely Planet and Fodor's to get information about hotels. However, these guides have been declining in popularity in recent years as travelers turn to UGC for more up-to-date and authentic information.
- The growing importance of reviews: Travelers are increasingly using reviews to make decisions about where to stay. In fact, a study by TripAdvisor found that 88% of travelers read reviews before booking a hotel.
- The continued use of mobile devices: Travelers are increasingly using mobile devices to research their travel plans. This makes it easy for them to access UGC and reviews on the go.
These trends suggest that user-generated content and guest reviews are becoming increasingly important factors in travelers' decision-making process. As a result, hotels that want to attract guests must ensure they are actively managing their online presence and responding to reviews in a timely and helpful manner.
Effectively Managing a Hotel's Online Presence
Managing a property's online presence involves multiple approaches, but it's crucial, to begin with managing its guest reputation to ensure effective management.
Hotels can enhance their online reputation by being proactive, responding promptly to reviews, staying positive, and utilizing social media, alongside providing a good guest experience. Prompt response to reviews demonstrates the hotel's commitment to providing an excellent experience and valuing the guests' feedback. It also enables the hotel to address any concerns or complaints before they escalate. Of course, always staying positive is essential, even when responding to negative reviews.
Also, responding to guest reviews promptly is key. Your property teams should strive to post management responses within 24-48 hours, seven days a week. Each guest review response should be posted natively into the original platform used by the guest. When responding to reviews, property teams should aim to not only address the situation with past guests but also use their responses to encourage potential future guests to book a stay at the property.
User Generated Content (UGC)
Using social media is a great way to connect with potential guests and get feedback for a hotel. It is vitally important to ensure the property is active on social media and responsive to comments and questions. This will help build relationships with potential guests and start the expected customer experience for the property. Hotels can no longer get away with just posting pretty pictures (or, worse, stock images). Today's modern traveler expects to be engaged via their preferred social media platform, and they love to share their images via UGC.
A recent study by the travel marketing company Phocuswright revealed some interesting data about customer UGC. The study surveyed over 1,000 travelers and found that UGC is a powerful tool that can influence travelers' decision-making process.
Here are some additional details from the study:
- 82% of travelers say they trust UGC more than traditional advertising. This means that travelers are more likely to believe what they see from other travelers than what they see from hotels or travel agencies.
- 72% of travelers say they're more likely to book a hotel after seeing UGC. This means that UGC can have a direct impact on bookings.
- 63% of travelers say they've booked a hotel based on a photo they saw on social media. This shows photos are a powerful way to showcase a hotel and its amenities.
- 54% of travelers say they're more likely to share UGC about a hotel if they have a positive experience. This means that positive experiences are more likely to be shared, which can create a positive buzz around a hotel.
- 48% of travelers say they're more likely to share UGC about a hotel if they have a negative experience. This means that even negative experiences can be turned into positive opportunities as long as the hotel responds promptly and positively.
The information presented in this data highlights the effectiveness of UGC in enticing and building trust with future potential hotel guests. It is essential for hotel properties to have a structured process for acquiring customer UGC and verifying the legality of its usage as intellectual property. If you require additional support in this area, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com. We can assist you in establishing a UGC protocol that suits your social media objectives.
For more information on how Lodging Interactive can monitor and respond to all your guest reviews and brand surveys, as well as how to collect UGC and establish a usage rights management process, please click here to connect with us.